If you've got feeders up this time of year, it's not unusual to see flashes of pink and red in the feathers of your regular visitors. Purple finches and northern cardinals give the white winter landscape of Vermont some much-needed color.
But don't assume that these birds are the only ones with color stopping for a spot of seed. Keep your eyes peeled for the common redpoll, a small bird from way up north. This wintertime visitor is considered an irruptive species, and makes it down to places like Vermont about once every two winters... making their sighting all the more special.
To ID this fine-looking finch, look for a red cap on their forehead, and a black spot of feathers beneath their yellow, conical beak. Both sexes have brownish-black stripes on either side of their body, with a white breast. Males' chests are topped with red. These birds travel in charms (which is the word used to describe a group of finches -- how delightful!), so you'll see large numbers of them at once.
These seed-eaters have been steadily enjoying the sunflower seed at my tube-feeders, and I've been enjoying having this uncommon visitor as a daily guest outside my window! Look for redpolls now!